I purchased the Flip Ultra video camera in January, after I asked a friend of mine – a professional videographer – what I should buy. I’m not good at video, not by any standard, probably because my real interest is in still photography.
Yet, increasingly, I can’t ignore video. Professionally, journalists are posting video interviews on the Internet, and we need to start doing that too. More importantly, I wanted to share videos of my son’s music performances with family via YouTube.
I told my friend that I wanted the equivalent of a point-and-shoot camera, but which did video. (My Canon PowerShot S2 IS still camera shoots video, but it’s too complicated.) He recommended the 60-minute Flip Ultra, and I bought one from Amazon in early January for $165. The price has since fallen to about $140.
It’s about as easy to use as one could imagine. There’s a power switch. There’s a big red button that starts and stops recording. You can push arrow buttons to digitally zoom in and out. A built-in USB connector lets you mount the device as a drive on your Mac or Windows laptop, and suck the videos out by drag-and-drop.
I’m delighted with the Flip Video, and we’re even using it this week at STPCon to cover keynotes and do interviews with speakers and attendees. It’s great that I can hand the camera to one of our conference staff, and they can figure it out instantly.
What do I like about the Flip Video?
• It is super easy to use, and requires no training
• The videos come out in a format where you can upload them right to YouTube
• It’s small enough to stick into my pocket
• It has good resolution (640×480, 30 frames/second)
• It holds an hour worth of video
• The sound and video quality is pretty good
• It has a tripod mount, which really improves video quality
• It uses AA cells, instead of rechargeable batteries
• It only costs $140 for the 60-minute version
• It comes in fun colors (but I bought the boring black one)
What don’t I like?
• I wish it had more zoom capability
• I wish that it used plug-in memory cards, to give it more capacity
• I wish that it had a mode for recording audio only
In short: Recommended if you’re looking for a point-and-shoot video camera.
Not recommended if you want advanced features, such as optical zoom, more than one hour of recording, remote control, integrated lighting source, multi-speed record, higher video resolution, titling/special effects, support for external microphones or removable film cards.
By the way, David Pogue reviewed the Flip Video for the New York Times on March 20. I agree with his assessment of the product.